Thursday, September 14, 2006

Bishop Lipscomb's perspective -- an article from SW Florida

Bishop John Lipscomb from Southwest Florida was a co-convener of the meeting, along with Bishop Peter Lee of the Diocese of Virginia. Also participating were bishops Jack Iker of Fort Worth, Robert Duncan of Pittsburgh, James Stanton of Dallas, Edward Salmon of South Carolina, Mark Sisk of New York, Dorsey Henderson of Upper South Carolina and Robert O'Neill of Colorado. Also attending was the Rev. Kenneth Kearon, the Secretary General of the Anglican Communion.

"The meeting speaks to the deep woundedness in the life of our church and to the very deep fissures within it," said Bishop Lipscomb by phone after the meeting. "I think people have generally been in denial that things were as difficult as they are. There is difficulty ahead of us."

In a statement released by the Diocese of Pittsburgh, Bishop Duncan offered a bleak assessment. "It became clear that the division in the American church is so great that we are incapable of addressing the divide which has two distinctly different groups both claiming to be the Episcopal Church."

"Our request for Alternative Primatial Oversight still stands," the statement said. "We wait on the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Primates of the Anglican Communion to answer our request."

The Archbishop, Dr. Rowan Williams, said Wednesday the fact that the meeting took place at all was a positive step. "There is clearly a process at work and although it hasn't yet come to fruition, the openness and charity in which views are being shared and options discussed are nevertheless signs of hope for the future," he said.

Bishop Lipscomb agreed. "I think that this meeting holds great hope," he said. "I think, for the first time, both sides laid down the masks and the pretenses and were as honest with each other as they could possibly be. And it was received on each side in a spirit of real charity and real concern."That we weren't able to come to an agreement may not be necessarily the worst thing that could happen, now that we have at least a common acknowledgment that there are deep issues that divide the church," he added.

Jefferts Schori called the discussions "open and frank, sometimes challenging conversations, but very healthy ones."

What's next?

Lipscomb said he is looking forward to next week's meeting of bishops in the Diocese of Texas. "I am hopeful that the meeting next week at Camp Allen will help clarify, to some degree, what we're looking at as we move into the future," he said.Exactly what the future will be is uncertain, he said.

"It's a situation in which people are going to have to make some fundamental decisions about how they are going to choose to inhabit the same space together. And if they can inhabit the same space together," Bishop Lipscomb said. "And I hope they can."

The bishops did not set a date to meet again, but Bishop Jefferts Schori told Episcopal News Service a second meeting within the next few months may be possible. "We're hoping to call another meeting later this fall to continue to wrestle with the issues," she said.

Bishop Lipscomb said a second meeting would depend on what was brought to the table. "The potential [for a follow-up meeting] is there," he said. "There was a clear understanding on everyone's part that just to come together again to talk for the sake of talking was not going to serve anybody well. But if we can come together with a firm proposal around which to work then we could have a reason to come together again."

Meanwhile, Griswold told Episcopal News Service, "the church continues to attend to its mission while also seeking to draw the diversity of opinions together and break down some of the walls of suspicion and mistrust that seriously hinder, no matter what perspectives we may hold."

Read it all here.


Blogger Allen Lewis said...

I was most disappointed that Jim DeLa (or perhaps Bishop Lipscomb himself?) jis using the perjorative abbreviation ALPO for what was requested.

I am also puzzled by all the statements implying that no one knows what is meant by the request. I think the combined statement from the dioceses involbed is quite explicit.

But as long as dismissive terms such as ALPO are being used instead of APO, as the Network dioceses have always abbreviated it, then there is little hope or any sort of agreement. The spirit is not even there when parties continue to use this sort of language.

3:49 PM  

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